20 phrases you can replace with one word

Circumlocution is the use of many words when one or two will do. It’s a scourge of corporate writing. Here’s how to avoid it.


Circumlocution is so prevalent in today’s corporate writing that we may not even notice it.

In case you’re unfamiliar, circumlocution is the use of many words when one will do. For example, writing “at this point in time” when “now” will work.

As Ragan.com publisher Mark Ragan often points out at his seminars, readers have “an incredibly shrinking attention span.” As writers and editors, we need to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible. One way we can do this—avoid circumlocution.

Here are some examples:

Instead of

Try

afford an opportunity

allow, let

as a means of

to

at this point in time

now

due to the fact that

because

during the period

during

has a requirement for

needs

in a timely manner

quickly, promptly

in accordance with

by, following, per, under

in advance of

before

in regard to

about, concerning, on

in the amount of

for

in the event that

if

in the near future

shortly, soon

no later than June 1

by June 1

pertaining to

about

provides guidance for

guides

under the provisions of

under

until such time as

until

with reference to

about

with the exception of

except

Readers, any examples of circumlocutory writing that you would like to share?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. She is also the author of the blog impertinentremarks.com.

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